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Home > Because We Belong (Because You Are Mine #3)(15)

Because We Belong (Because You Are Mine #3)(15)
Author: Beth Kery

A loud, harsh laugh pierced his focus. Ian stood rapidly, taking a defensive stance without thought.

“He liked to take a piece of all of them—all of his ladies,” the bearded, hulking man jeered.

“Get out of here, you tramp. How many times do I have to throw you out of this place? I bought this house. It’s mine, now. You can’t just wander in and out of here like you used to do,” Ian said ferociously, charging across the creaky floorboards. He’d like nothing better than to sink his fist into flesh at that moment. It’d be a damn sight better outlet for all of his fury and depression than sorting through the filth Trevor Gaines had left behind from his worthless life. He grabbed the front of the man’s dirty overcoat and shoved his large, solid body against the wall next to the staircase, causing air to whoosh out of the other man’s lungs. He pressed the ridge of his forearm against the derelict’s throat, bloodlust making his heart pound in his ears. Despite the harsh treatment, Reardon managed a rough laugh, his wild amusement sending Ian into a higher pitch of fury.

“Maybe, maybe,” Reardon’s eyes moved across Ian’s contorted face. “Maybe this is your home. Maybe you do belong here. I know what you are.”

Outside the realms of his fury, Ian felt surprise. They spoke English to one another instead of the local French, and while Reardon’s voice was rough, his speech was quite refined. The townspeople thereabouts were wary of Ian, but a few newcomers to the area had told him the name of the local outcast who lived illegally somewhere in the Aurore Woods on the manor’s property. Ian had chased Kam Reardon out of the country house on two other occasions. At first he’d thought the tramp was stealing from his food stores, but soon realized his supplies hadn’t been touched. In time, he’d begun to suspect that Reardon was pilfering electronic equipment and materials from Trevor Gaines’s workshop. Ian hadn’t realized until now, however, that Reardon could string more than two curses and a grunt together.

“I know what you are, too,” Ian grated out, jerking his forearm so that the other man gagged and his head clunked against the wall. “You’re a thief and a poacher and a waste of space upon this earth.”

“Aren’t we all? Aren’t we all his nasty leavings, no better than those rotten panties you just found? Just think,” Reardon said in choked voice, his eyes gleaming with malicious merriment. “Some of those pretty little things might have been your mother’s.”

A white-hot fury pulsed through every fiber of Ian’s being. He pulled back his fist to strike, but unintentionally met the vagrant’s stare. Piercing light gray eyes speared through a slightly grimy, heavily bearded face. Lucien’s eyes—

It was as if a pitcher of ice water had been thrown in his face.

He started back, horror seizing him. “Get the hell out of here,” he rasped. “Now, before I bury you with all of this other trash and burn the heap around you.”

Reardon’s teeth flashed surprisingly white and straight in his swarthy countenance. “Fitting, wouldn’t it be? Brother.”

Ian winced, realizing he’d betrayed the truth of what he’d seen with his display of acute revulsion. Reardon straightened and brushed off his jacket, as regal and disdainful as an offended prince who wore the finest of coats instead of something that looked like it’d been salvaged from the trash. His mouth curling, eyes burning, he leaned forward. “You should watch out,” Reardon breathed softly. “You look an awful lot like him, wandering around this place. People will start to swear that dear old daddy’s ghost is haunting this garbage dump.”

Ian closed his eyes at the sound of Reardon’s heavy boots on the stairs, fighting down the bitter taste at the back of his throat.

* * *

Later that evening, he shoved aside an uneaten dinner that had mostly come from a can. He stood to remove the meal from the quarters where he’d been staying and noticed his reflection in the mirror. After a strained moment, he set down the plate and glass on the dusty bureau, his mission forgotten. He peered closer at his image.

When had his two– and then three-day overgrowth become a full-blown beard? When had he gotten that feral look in his eyes? When had he started to resemble Kam Reardon?

Resemble worse than Reardon?

You’re starting to look like him. People will start to swear that dear old daddy’s ghost is haunting this garbage dump.

He hissed, smashing his fist into the bureau and sending the china plate crashing to the wood floor, where it shattered jarringly.

Stupid fuck. Ian was nothing like Trevor Gaines. His entire reason for buying this godforsaken house, for sifting through every item in its rat-warren rooms, was to purge that criminal from his mind and body. It was an exorcism of sorts.

He’s in your very blood, a nasty voice in his head reminded him. You’ll never be free of the taint of him.

His other life—the once methodical, organized, sterile one that had recently been transformed by Francesca, blessed by light and laughter and love—was starting to feel like a dream to him, an elusive memory that he couldn’t quite grasp with his clutching fingers. His world was starting to become a watered-down nightmare—not terrifying, necessarily, but dirty and gray, vague and pointless. A personalized version of hell.

“No,” he said roughly out loud, his gaze growing fierce in the mirror. He did have a purpose . . . a goal. Once he understood who Trevor Gaines was, once he comprehended why his biological father had become so depraved, he could more easily separate himself from the man. There was a method to his madness.

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